Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cantaloupe Ginger Granita

Today's recipe was inspired by one of my absolute favorite drinks from my childhood.  A staple at Filipino summer parties and barbecues, it was basically shredded cantaloupe, a splash of lemon juice, and sugar water.  Always served ice cold, I have fond memories of my siblings and I guzzling down the water and then savoring the strands of sweet melon, laughing as we slowly ate them one at a time like spaghetti.  It was so refreshing and satisfying during the long, hot, lazy days between June and September.

So seeing the bounty of beautiful local, organic melons at the farmers' market these days,  I wanted to make something based on those memories. And while I certainly could've taken the path of least resistance and made a drink, I decided instead to mish-mash it with another recipe idea that's been percolating in my head: Granita.  Also known as Italian ice, the texture is comparable to a 'rustic' sorbet or a snow cone.  I've most often had it as an intermezzo between courses, served in teeny-tiny little dishes. And the thought that always crosses my mind as I begrudgingly eat the last dainty spoonful is, "How do I get more of this?" 

And while delicious things often intimidate me into thinking that I couldn't possible make them at home, granita is honestly one of the easiest things I've ever made.  You start with freezing a liquid, like orange juice, flavored milk, or coffee, and then you periodically scrape and mixiit with a fork to form a crystalline melt-in-your mouth wonder.  Voila.

No fuss, no gadgets, and no tricks with this recipe - just simple, potentially brain-freezing, deliciousness.

Cantaloupe Ginger Granita
Gluten Free, Vegan, & Raw

Active Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: at least 2 hours
Yield: approximately 8 half cup servings

2 c (or approx. 10 oz) cubed cantaloupe
2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, minced or grated
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2-4 teaspoons raw agave
a healthy pinch of fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
1/8 c water

1.  In a food processor or blender, combine cantaloupe, ginger, lemon juice, and agave.  The amount of agave will depend both on the ripeness of your melon and personal taste.  Scrape down the sides as needed and blend until you have a nearly smooth puree - small chunks are totally fine.
2.  Add salt, cayenne (if desired), and water.  To add a personal touch and another dimension, feel free to substitute other liquids, like coconut water, pineapple juice, or green tea, for the water.  Pulse to combine.  Note that the taste at this point will not reflect how it will taste once finished.  The flavors will really come together during the next step.
3.  Transfer to a freezer-safe container.  Keep in mind that a shallower, larger container will promote faster freezing.
4.  For a smoother, more sorbet-like, granita, scrape/stir with a fork every 20-30 minutes.  To achieve a consistency more like a snow cone or shaved ice, scrape/stir every 60-90 minutes.  You can even allow it freeze completely and then scrape/stir before serving - just allow time for it to slightly defrost before doing this for safety's sake.

Succulent, sweet cantaloupe.

I stop here.  I like the diversity of textures.

Fourth time stirring, almost two hours in.

See?  I told you it was easy.  If you know me, the addition of ginger should come as no surprise - I will add it to anything and everything.  But the cayenne was inspired by living in Texas for the last ten years, where eating mangoes, pineapple, watermelon, and apples with chili powder is an everyday thing.  I love how the ginger warms the palate at the outset, setting up the pleasantly subtle kick of the cayenne on the finish. 

Larger, distinct crystals from stirring every hour.

Smoother, smaller crystals from stirring every half hour.

I hope this simple, healthy recipe inspired by a childhood memory will offer you opportunities for both refreshment and relaxation.  Share it with friends, with family, and with kids.

May it help you to cherish the beauty and brevity of summer.


  1. I cannot tell you how much I LOVE that you added ginger to this. I will put it in anything, too. And the more, the better. Unless I'm cooking for other people who aren't used to ginger. lol

    1. And even if they aren't used to ginger, if they're going to eat with me, they better get used to it quick. Just kidding...kind of... ;) Thank you for your comment, Debi!

    2. LOL You're welcome! I just put a batch in the freezer. Can't wait!


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